SFA chief executive Stewart Regan believes the Euro 2020 finals could provide the ultimate endorsement of his organisation’s performance schools strategy.
If Glasgow is successful in its bid to become a host city for the tournament, Regan is hopeful Scotland will be taking part with a squad which includes some of the children currently progressing through the £15 million performance schools programme.
Seven schools across Scotland – in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Motherwell, Falkirk, Kilmarnock, Dundee and Aberdeen – were chosen by the SFA in 2012 when the first intake of the country’s best under-12 footballers were enrolled.
“If you were to ask what would epitomise success for our performance strategy,” said Regan, “then a key example for me would be to see some of our performance school kids playing for Scotland’s senior team at Hampden in the finals of a major tournament.
“If Scotland qualify for the 2020 finals, and Glasgow is chosen as one of the host cities, then we would have two of our three group matches at Hampden.
“That’s why we are obviously quite excited about the prospect, from Euro 2016 onwards, that 24 nations are going to be in the finals.
“In 2020, we could potentially have some of our performance school kids coming through the ranks, breaking into the under-17 and under-19 teams and then ultimately playing at Hampden for Scotland in a major competition.”
Regan is confident bringing a slice of the Euro 2020 finals to Glasgow would also have a lasting benefit for the SFA’s youth development strategy.
“If we do get those performance school kids playing for Scotland in the National Stadium at a major tournament, it will have a major impact on getting other kids to play football,” added Regan.
“It’s a bit like when Wimbledon is on and everyone seems to be playing tennis, or when the Ashes is on and kids play cricket. There is that feelgood factor and it’s important our football is showcased on a global level.
“People talk about legacy from big sporting events. What does legacy mean to us? It means as many kids as possible following football and the fortunes of Scotland and there’s nothing like success to make that come to life.
“We have seen our under-17 men and womens’ teams both reach their European finals this year.
“If we can push on with the senior teams – and both the men and women are doing well at the moment – then that’s got to have a benefit.”